This article was previously published on September 9, 2016.
Have you ever gone more than 30 minutes without checking your phone at least once? Pretty hard, right? Do you even watch TV anymore, or do you sit on the couch scrolling through Facebook with the TV on in the background?
As technology continues to evolve and become more interactive, human beings are finding it increasingly difficult to tear themselves away from whatever lit up screen they’re binge-watching Netflix on.
That’s not to say that technology is bad thing—the Internet is supremely useful in accomplishing daily tasks and maintaining an organized workflow and personal life. It’s just that the Internet and technology in general, like anything else, should be used in moderation.
An inability to disconnect from your devices could be preventing you from truly enjoying your life.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the ease and relative comfort of entertaining yourself with your tablets, laptops, smartphones, and gaming systems that you forget that there are real experiences in the world to share with real human beings.
There are a few ways you can make a conscious effort to disengage from the never-ending vortex that is the Internet and start to truly enjoy the finer things in life.
1. Plan Engaging Activities
The easiest thing to do on a Saturday morning is wake up at 11:00, walk right past the shower, and plop down on the couch. Before you know it, you’ve just spent three hours watching TV, and you haven’t even gotten out of your pajamas.
Just one Saturday, try getting up before sunrise. In fact, talk to your friends the night before. Tell them you want to go hiking the next day, and set a time for all of you to meet.
Being in nature, exercising, and hanging with friends and family have all been proven to boost your mood, and subsequently, your physical and mental health.
You’ll find that planning activities will motivate you more to actually follow through with them, and once you’re out in the fresh air, your body and mind will thank you!
2. Ban Smartphone Usage During Meals
The next time you’re at a restaurant, take a quick scan of the room and find a table with a bunch of teenagers. What are they doing? Talking to each other? Maybe.
There’s a good chance, however, that they are glued to their phones. You’ve probably seen it—a group of roughly five to eight people sitting next to each other yet somehow not interacting with one another.
Texting and social media can be addicting. Although not officially recognized as a true addiction, the Internet has many properties that promote addictive behaviors and pseudo-intimate interpersonal relationships. Basically, like any addiction, the Internet stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain–especially the visual portion.
The Internet has videos you like to watch, pictures you like to look at, and the lives of people you want to be connected with. And that’s hard to peel your eyes away from. Just attempting to turn this addictive habit into something more positive is one step in the right direction. On average, it takes 66 days to form a habit–so don’t expect instant results. Regardless of how long it takes you to get used to it, subtracting social media and adding real-life social time into your weekend will only reap positive results.
So next time you’re at dinner, make a rule that everyone has to put their phones in a stack in the center of the table (if there’s space to do so, of course). And if anyone grabs their phone at any point during the meal, that person pays for everyone’s food.
This method has been proven quite effective in generating real conversation and interaction. When you’re not glued to your phone, you don’t have a choice but to talk to the people around you.
You’ll probably find that you enjoy it.
3. Turn All Your Devices Off At A Certain Time
If you sleep with your phone on and next to your bed, you’re not alone. No one is quite sure why everyone expects frantic phone calls all throughout the night, every night, yet on the nightstand the phone rests.
Unfortunately for you, when you’re sleeping or trying to relax, having your phone on might actually keep you from truly relaxing.
Research has found that turning off your phone, or at least keeping it in a different room, will benefit your brain and well-being. Separating yourself from the constant distraction will help you sleep better and wake up better, improve your brain function, and even become better at solving problems.
Each night, set a time for all devices and gadgets to be turned off—phones, TVs, laptops, everything. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your phone off, then at least put it in another room.
The point is to disconnect every day at the same time. This will help recharge your brain and filter out all of the endless chatter.
Disconnecting from technology can seem so hard, especially since so much of society is wrapped up in online identities, but you’ll find that you’re able to enjoy the real world when the virtual one isn’t constantly buzzing in your pocket.
How do you unplug when you’ve been staring at social media for hours on end?
Also by Cori: 7 Morning Rituals to Manifest Positivity
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Photo: Xochi Romero via Unsplash